The UK’s 12 Most Unique and Beautiful Airbnbs

Staycations are summer 2020’s holiday of choice, so we’ve picked out the UK’s most unusual yet beautiful rental properties ideal for intimate weekend trips and group holidays. Say no to scrolling and search fatigue; these are some of the best stays to book on Airbnb right now.

Airbnb has revolutionised the way many of us book accommodation, tapping into the mood of a generation of travellers more interested in experiences, design, authenticity and affordability than old-school glitz and glamour disconnected from the destination it inhabits.

Yet not all Airbnbs were created equal. As staycations are summer 2020's holiday of choice, we've picked out the UK rental properties that are offbeat yet on point. Expect eco-friendly cabins on Scotland's remote islands, boathouses in central London, repurposed windmills ideal for romantic weekend trips and a medieval manor fit for group getaways.

Forget scrolling and search fatigue, these are the UK's most beautifully unique Airbnbs.

Treehouses, windmills and private jets: 12 of the best places to book on Airbnb

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The Jet Star

Pembrokeshire, Wales

There are no long queues at security or carbon emissions to offset when staying in this converted 70s private jet. It carried up to nine passengers in its heyday, but now sleeps four guests who will enjoy first-class features such as an illuminated bar and flight games in the cockpit - though you'll have to disembark to use the nearby shower block and kitchen area.

Sleeps: 4

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Old Smock Windmill

Camber Sands, Kent

This four-storey, weatherboarded windmill has us in a spin with its knotted-oak beams, giant spur wheel, spiral staircase, copper basins and views across the garden of England. Plus, there's a great spot under the apple tree outside for barbecues. It's usually booked up months in advance; plan ahead - our pocket guide to nearby Rye may come in handy. If you like this, check out Winterton Lighthouse in Norfolk for an equally elevated stay.

Sleeps: 2

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Bluebird Penthouse

High Bickington, Devon

Full disclosure: this is not a penthouse but a revamped 50s caravan where the USP is a vintage Land Rover with a hot tub built into the bonnet. A little gimmicky? Perhaps, but when we're stewing with a glass of red and views across the North Devon countryside, it's really hard to care. Stepping inside the retro Bluebird motorhome is akin to stumbling back a few decades thanks to chequerboard lino, ditzy floral curtains, a Bush radio and an art-deco bathroom, should you need even more soaking time.

Sleeps: 2

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The Open Book

Galloway, Scotland

Lit lovers, this one's for you. Set in Wigtown - Scotland's official National Book Town since 1998 - this charming bookshop lets you live out that fantasy of having your own indie bookstore by the sea with a novella-sized apartment above. It's non-profit, meaning the room rate is affordable, and you'll be expected to help out with running the shop after training from Wigtown's well-read community of booksellers. Think of it as a bookshop residency. Plan your stay for late September/ early October to catch the Wigtown Book Festival.

Sleeps: 2

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St Mary of Eton

Hackney Wick, London

Talk about finding gems on your doorstep. This Grade II-listed church was built for the Eton College Mission in the late 19th century. Thankfully for us, Matthew Lloyd Architects transformed it into a pad as cool as its hip London locale in 2007, and it's since gone on to bag a handful of awards for architecture and design. Expect an airy, loft-style living area, original brickwork and windows, spiral stone stairways and 360-degree views from the roof.

Sleeps: 7

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AirShip 2

Highlands, Scotland

Spot the island of Tobermory across the Sound of Mull through the panoramic windows of this aluminium pod designed by Roderick James Architects. Bedrooms come in the form of cosy bunks in the middle of the "ship", a small yet functional kitchenette and dining area at one end and living space at the other.

Sleeps: 2

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Crayke Manor

Crayke, North Yorkshire

You'd be forgiven for thinking you'd stumbled into a Brontë novel at this Jacobean manor. Little seems to have changed since it was built in 1620, such is the wizened allure of its mullion windows and gnarled beams set among 17 private acres. This is a great spot for a family-and-friends get together thanks to its nine bedrooms and adjoining cottages - for a more intimate retreat, rent out the first floor alone. Sleeping 15, Suffolk's Butler Priory, a whitewashed 12th-century abbey, is a more southerly answer to Crayke Manor.

Sleeps: 16+

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The Chapel Townhouse

Brighton, East Sussex

If Brighton is the UK's home of hedonism, then this one-bedroom rental makes for a divine retreat from the debauchery. Constructed in 1876, this former chapel set among Victorian mews has been given the kind of revamp of which we're not entirely sure its 19th-century parishioners would approve. Bathed in the light from original stained-glass windows, you'll find a metallic roll-top tub, neon crucifix and a chandelier fashioned from black lego.

Sleeps: 2

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Port Moluag House

Inner Hebrides, Scotland

Found at the end of a hidden track in a private, weatherbeaten cove on the Hebridean Isle of Lismore - meaning "the great garden" in Gaelic - this wood-clad Airbnb is for those who want to get off the beaten track without forgoing design-forward luxuries. Spend days in the company of plants before retreating to the steam room. Better yet, this new, sustainable build has been constructed in a way that leaves minimal impact on the environment.

Sleeps: 3

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Foxborough Bubble Den

Antrim, Northern Ireland

There are lots of yurts, domes, earth houses and such on Airbnb that promise to get you up-and-close with nature but fall flat when it comes to comfort and style. Enter Foxborough Bubble Den. Nestled between woodland and water, this unconventional transparent dome has Pinterest-worthy interiors. Start the day breakfasting to views across Portglenone and round it off with s'mores on the firepit before falling asleep under an inky, star-flecked canopy - without worrying if it'll rain in the night.

Sleeps: 2

This image is on holiday

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Jessie the Narrowboat

Little Venice, London

Moored on the north bank of Little Venice, just opposite Browning's Island - and a stone's throw from Paddington Station - this 17m-long wood-panelled narrowboat offers back-to-basics escapism in the heart of London. It's decked out with bunk single beds and a pull-out double as well as a shower, cassette toilet, kitchenette and a combination stove for chilly evenings. For more river stays in the Big Smoke, try the 19th-century Captain's Cabin in a Dutch clipper at Tower Bridge or this Scandi-minimalist boat on Kensington Canal.

Sleeps: 4

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The Pasty

Widegates, Cornwall

Run by Lydcott Glamping, The Pasty is among the UK's first Iglucraft cabins. Simple blonde-wood interiors make sure that sea views take centre stage - though we're particularly taken with the queen-sized bed that converts into a dining area. Like this? Check out sister property The Pilchard that sleeps four guests on the coast of Looe.

Sleeps: 4

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